The Embellished Season of Michael Young

Given the tendency of the local and national media to deify Michael Young in the past, we should have seen the embellishment of Michael Young’s unproductive 2013 season coming. We heard some of it — good teammate, great in the clubhouse — as trade rumors circulated towards the July 31 trade deadline, and now that the August 31 waiver deadline is drawing ever nearer, writers are getting their last words in about Young’s contributions to the disappointing Phillies team.

If Young exceeded expectations, it was because they were set below floor-level to begin with. Young was the second-worst player in baseball last year going by Baseball Reference’s version of Wins Above Replacement, sandwiched between Jeff Francoeur and Greg Dobbs. Among players aged 35 or older like Young who were two wins below replacement or worse, only Carlton Fisk bounced back and contributed one win above replacement or better. Young is at -0.7 WAR, which at least isn’t the -2.0 WAR of last year.

Though many accept that his defense has been somewhere between below average and laughably bad, leaning more heavily towards the latter, many have been enthused by his offensive performance. He has an adjusted OPS of 103 on the year, a few ticks above the league average. His wRC+ (like adjusted OPS but with weighted runs above average and park adjustments) is 105, a marked improvement over last year’s 79.

There are two reasons for the improvement in offense. For one, he is hitting for more power. His .128 isolated power is well above last year’s .093. However, last year aside, it is still his lowest since 2008. His eight home runs match last year’s output. And to put the .128 ISO in context, it ranks 110th out of 149 qualified players, putting him between Andre Ethier and Brandon Crawford.

The second reason is that Young is walking more than he ever has in his career, representing nine percent of his plate appearances. It is an improvement of nearly four percent over last season, which seems quite good. However, the National League average walk rate is 7.6 percent, so over 500 plate appearances, Young will walk just seven more times than the average hitter. If Young’s plate discipline looks good, it is only due to the low bar set by his previous career marks and by his team — among Phillies with at least 200 plate appearances, Young has the highest walk rate.

What has been talked about a lot, yet still gets overlooked is Young’s propensity to ground into double plays. He was on an historic pace earlier in the season but cooled down lately, leaving him with 18* on the season.

* FanGraphs counts 18 double plays, while Baseball Reference lists 17.

Young’s double plays have combined for -1.2 Win Percent Added on their own, averaging -0.06 WPA per double play. This means that Young’s double plays on average have decreased his team’s odds of winning by six percent. His most costly double play decreased his team’s odds by over 18 percent. Going by overall WPA, Young has contributed the 14th-least among qualified National League hitters at -0.87.

Date Pitcher Inn. Outs Base Score Double Play WPA 
April 14 C Qualls 8-T 0 12_ 1-1 4-6-3 -.183
June 4 M Dunn 8-B 0 1__ 2-2 5-4-3 -.142
May 19 H Bailey 6-B 0 1__ 0-2 5-4-3 -.115
April 18 A Wainwright 4-B 1 12_ 0-2 5-4-3 -.112
July 13 M Lindstrom 8-B 1 1__ 1-1 6-4-3 -.104
May 26 S Strasburg 6-T 1 1__ 0-0 4-6-3 -.076
April 5 W Davis 1-B 1 12_ 1-0 6-4-3 -.072
April 22 A Burnett 5-B 1 1__ 2-2 6-4-3 -.067
April 21 J Westbrook 4-B 0 1__ 2-1 6-4-3 -.067
June 9 K Lohse 3-T 0 1__ 4-0 6-4-3 -.061
May 1 B Shaw 7-T 0 12_ 5-0 4-6-3 -.053
May 3 R Nolasco 1-B 1 1__ 0-0 4-6-3 -.049
June 28 C Capuano 2-T 0 1__ 0-3 6-4-3 -.037
June 22 J Edgin 7-B 1 1__ 7-5 5-4-3 -.022
May 3 R Nolasco 5-B 1 1__ 4-1 5-4-3 -.019
May 6 C Gaudin 7-T 0 1__ 1-5 6-4-3 -.011
June 15 A Ottavino 7-T 1 1__ 10-2 6-4-3 -.006
April 17 L Ondrusek 9-T 1 1__ 11-2 5-4-3 .000

Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs agree that 2013 has been the second-worst season of Young’s career. Any intangibles he does supposedly bring, according to the sportswriters happy to embellish his rather meager contributions, are worthless to a team that was realistically out of contention by the end of June and now sits 13 games under .500, 19.5 games out of first place. All of the clubhouse leadership, grit, and hustle couldn’t outweigh Young’s lack of production on the field and help the Phillies out of the gigantic hole they have dug for themselves.

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87 comments

  1. joecatz

    August 13, 2013 02:59 PM

    “Good points, but I don’t think the 2013 numbers can be a reference point for the future. Revere, Utley, Howard and Ruiz missed so much time. Asche and Ruf have too few PA’s to evaluate, and the Youngs won’t be on the roster next season.”

    “the Phillies still need to search for the RH catcher than can hit RHP.”

    its not about evaluating, or what they did or didn’t do, its about the fallacy that there is such thing as a LH heavy lineup.

    you can go out and sign Jarrod Saltalamachia to catch and that solves your balance problem. hes a switch hitter. he also hits LHP as a RHB worse that Brian McCann does as a LHB. its not abot finding a RH catcher or a RH RF that can hit RH pitching.

    its about finding a RF or a C that can MASH LHP and hold his own against RHP or vice versa.

    knowing that 76% of the plate appearances Phillies hitters have had this year came against RHP…who would you rather have:

    287/385/463 career with
    309/408/525 vs. RHP
    235/340/340 vs LHP

    or

    268/328/496 career with
    262/317/498 vs RHP
    286/357/516 vs LHP

    thats Choo vs. Cruz. LHB vs your RH power bat, and no offense, I take Choo all day long.

  2. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 03:08 PM

    @Joecatz,

    Yes, because signing Douchbag Young to be our everyday starter as opposed to Nick Swisher was really a choice that we would have been better off with Douchbag Young.

    You can argue all you want about draft choices, but I’m pretty certain that wasn’t anywhere close to the deciding factor. As for length of contract and/or amount, isn’t that what we are TALKING about? They “chose” to go with a lesser player for less money and less years. That’s not the very definition of choosing to save money because they realize they don’t have unlimited amount? I have no idea what other conclusion a reasonable person would draw.

  3. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 03:10 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    If you want to talk about the future, what POSSIBLE reason would you want to KEEP RAJ to solve the difficult situation we are in when he put us there in the first place?

    And if you’re just saying that the next GM has his work cut out for him… I think that’s a “duh” moment.

    As for how I would fix this team, I think I’ve already unveiled half of my plan before the deadline. I can tweak to reflect the current reality if you like.

  4. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 03:12 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    In other words, the “who the hell else would you hire out there” is a VERY poor reason to use to advocate keeping RAJ.

  5. joecatz

    August 13, 2013 03:30 PM

    “Yes, because signing Douchbag Young to be our everyday starter as opposed to Nick Swisher was really a choice that we would have been better off with Douchbag Young.”

    Yes. It absolutely was. Of all the OF choices out there, 15mm a year for 4 years for a 32 year old Nick Swisher who is right now OPSing 100 points lower than his career average was the worst decision of them all. I’d pay michael Young 6mm for one year of a bridge to Asche or Franco and have JP Crawford over that albatross contract all day long.

    “You can argue all you want about draft choices, but I’m pretty certain that wasn’t anywhere close to the deciding factor. As for length of contract and/or amount, isn’t that what we are TALKING about? They “chose” to go with a lesser player for less money and less years. That’s not the very definition of choosing to save money because they realize they don’t have unlimited amount? I have no idea what other conclusion a reasonable person would draw.”

    the draft compensation was tantamount to the decision once Upton was signed. its why they traded for Revere instead of going after any of the other guys.

    and no, not choosing to go long term on bad contracts when you have no idea whether you WANT to resign Chase Utley or WANT to resign Roy Halladay or WANT to resign Carlos Ruiz or KNOW DICK ABOUT RYAN HOWARD and have no idea what you have in DOM BROWN or Darin Ruf is not indicative of choosing to save money, its the definition of spending wisely.

    how is it so hard for someone as smart as you are to unerstand that the lack of long term deals this offseason had to do with the money off the books after this year?

    The Phillies were going to live and die in 2013 because of Utley, Howard, Halladay. they needed all of them to be back to form, regardless of who they signed to play RF.

    I call that smart decisonmaking. If those gys are healthy all year, its a different story.

    again, if and when they decide not to spend this offseason you may I told you so to death.

    and again, I’m amazed that someone who preaches about how we should trade our fragil 33 year old pitcher who has finished in the top 5 in fWAR every year since 2009, that shows no signs of decline, to reallocate dollars can turn around and complain that they didn’t sign A 32 YEAR OLD OF for 15MM a year for 5 years in the same year that said OF has ACTUALLY DECLINED SIGNIFICANTLY in the first year of a deal!!

    hes hitting 240/340/397 with 12 HRs and 37 RBI in 103 games!!! hes got a .325 wOBA!!

    michael young, for half that money and no commitment past 2013 has a 270/336/396 line with a .322 wOBA!! 8 HRs to 43 RBI!!

    Offensively they’ve been THE SAME PLAYER!!!

    now please, explain to me again how Nick Swisher was a better option with four more years of dead money than Michael Young!

  6. Joecatz

    August 13, 2013 04:16 PM

    “In other words, the “who the hell else would you hire out there” is a VERY poor reason to use to advocate keeping RAJ.”

    Depends on how much faith you have in ownership to make a choice that moves the franchise forward. The real question, isn’t who would you hire, rather, what kind of GM is Monty and co gong to hire.

    There are layers here that go beyond the scope of simply believing “anyone other than Amaro” is the absolute right answer.

  7. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 04:56 PM

    @Joecatz,

    I’m not saying the moves that were made were wrong; I’m merely disputing the notion that we have unlimited money as others seemingly argued; why would you need to spend wisely when you have unlimited money?

  8. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 05:03 PM

    “Depends on how much faith you have in ownership to make a choice that moves the franchise forward. The real question, isn’t who would you hire, rather, what kind of GM is Monty and co gong to hire.

    There are layers here that go beyond the scope of simply believing “anyone other than Amaro” is the absolute right answer.”

    You mean the same guy who hired Pat Gillick? Yeah, I’ll take my chances over who he might hire over who we currently have.

  9. Joecatz

    August 13, 2013 07:01 PM

    Of course the phillies have limited resources. Every team does. It’s called a budget. The phillies has been around the luxury tax limit every year. It’ll stay there as long as they decide to compete and they have those big contracts on the books. But that budget has yet to be a reason why they can’t go out and sign someone. It wouldn’t have impeded them if they chose to sign nick swisher and they actually could have signed the same other people less delmon hung and stayed under the cap.

    The point is they didn’t not sign these guys because of money. They chose not to sign them because they were not wise signings.

    Whether that’s caue they learned from past mistakes or they felt it was a transition year, or didn’t want to give up a draft pick who knows. But money wasn’t the impediment.

  10. hk

    August 13, 2013 07:55 PM

    Pencilfish,

    I’m glad to see that you agree with joecatz that RAJ should be fired and that the owners should seek a GM with an approach that is diametrically opposed to RAJ’s.

  11. Pencilfish

    August 14, 2013 09:36 AM

    hk,

    It was a long article. I can understand if you haven’t read the whole thing, because you missed the main point of the article.

  12. hk

    August 14, 2013 10:47 AM

    The main point of the article was typed right there at the top for you in italics. It reads: “The Ruben Amaro era should end, and it should end soon. But who replaces him is more important than getting rid of him.” It was also summarized near the end with the following line, “We all know that Ruben has to go. But maybe it’s time to stop screaming for his job, and to stop worrying about the past and to make a conscious effort to force ownership to see the writing on the wall.”

    I agree with joecatz that the RAJ era should end soon and that ownership SHOULD find someone who takes a different approach to building a team. What am I missing as the main point of the article?

  13. Pencilfish

    August 14, 2013 10:52 AM

    “You mean the same guy who hired Pat Gillick? Yeah, I’ll take my chances over who he might hire over who we currently have.”

    Isn’t that the same guys who hired RAJ? You trust them to hire a “better” GM?

    Some people worship Gillick because of the 2008 WS, but Gillick himself pointed out the 2008 team was mostly built by Ed Wade, who is now a special consultant to RAJ. You also forget that Gillick’s magic touch worked before the new collective bargaining agreement took effect. No one knows if he would still be effective with the 2nd WC, the draft slotting system, changes in FA compensation structure, teams locking young stars to long contracts, etc. This is not 2008 anymore.

    See this article which points out the strengths and weaknesses of each GM.

    www.thegoodphight.com/2013/8/13/4612762/is-ruben-wade-jr-exactly-the-gm-the-phillies-need

    I am not sure I completely agree with the conclusions, but it certainly is possible Ed Wade has significant input since he was re-hired.

  14. Pencilfish

    August 14, 2013 11:07 AM

    hk,

    The main point of the article is here:

    “Because unless ownership sees the REAL errors in their ways, it’s just a lot of the same.”

    What joecatz, you and I think is (almost completely) irrelevant. What ownership thinks is what matters. It’s naive to believe that getting rid of RAJ and finding a new GM who can take the team in a new direction is the solution to our troubles. We are talking about moving the ENTIRE organization (scouts, draft dept., analysts, coaches, players, etc) in a new direction. This is like asking the Titanic to turn, not a small sailboat. It will take YEARS, not months.

    Then, there’s this issue. Montgomery led a group of investors to sink $30M to buy the team in 1981. The team is now worth $893M. How would you convince them that their investment has been a failure, and letting RAJ go is the first step to fix the problem?

  15. Pencilfish

    August 14, 2013 11:13 AM

    and not only that, but they fire RAJ, hire a new GM to take the team in a different direction (which I assume means a high turnover of the roster) while negotiating a new TV contract? Good luck trying to sell that!

  16. hk

    August 14, 2013 11:18 AM

    Pencilfish,

    What is the “REAL error in their ways” that joecatz believes ownership has to see to avoid more of the same?

  17. hk

    August 14, 2013 11:26 AM

    Pencilfish,

    When most come on these boards, we offer what we think management SHOULD do, not what we think management WILL do. I have no doubt in my mind that RAJ will be GM of this team next year and I would make an even money bet that he’s the GM in 2015, too. After all, Monty believes that RAJ is hitting .300 as a GM and that’s a pretty good average to Monty. Hence, joecatz’s that ownership does not, and most likely will not, see the REAL errors in their ways.

  18. joecatz

    August 14, 2013 12:02 PM

    HK, and Pencilfish,

    youre both right.

    but if youre going to quote from the piece the portion I’d say is the real gist of the argument is this:

    “Simply put, if nine GMs are sitting at a poker table, and 4 of them are traditionalists, and the other five use sabermetrics, and analytics, combined with scouting, etc… The five players using the tools have hole cameras to see the four traditionalist cards, while the other four do not. The deck is stacked from the minute they sit down at the table.”

    And if I was ranking my choices in order, for 2014, believing that the Phillies will, regardless of who is at the helm try to compete, which is what WILL happen, I rank the decisions like this.

    1. Fire Amaro/Hire an analytical minded GM
    2. Keep Amaro and pray
    3. Hire a different GM who wont do a thing regarding Analytics.

    and my reasoning for that is simple. IF you go with option three, that change that is necessary is put off for at least 3-5 more years. no questions asked.

  19. Pencilfish

    August 14, 2013 12:47 PM

    hk,

    “When most come on these boards, we offer what we think management SHOULD do, not what we think management WILL do.”

    I get that, but that’s incomplete. We also need to offer what (and why) we think management will REALISTICALLY do. Otherwise, it is disconnected from reality.

    Joecatz,

    Instead of the main point of your article, I should have said “my main takeaway”. I just don’t see the Phillies moving in a completely different direction in 2014, because of the new TV deal, the large contracts already on the books, etc. Change (ie, analytics) is likely to happen (very) slowly over many years. There are not enough compelling reasons not to.

  20. joecatz

    August 14, 2013 02:09 PM

    fair enough. and for what its worth I tend to agree with you that they won’t make a front office change.

    but I don’t think its wrong to try and shift the opinion away from the scapegoat to the real problem. right now the chorus (and its shifted away from just the smart fans to really the entire fanbase) is FIRE RUBEN! FIRE CHARLIE!

    If enough people say it, and enough people stop renewing ticket packages etc.. eventually ownership makes a change just for the sake of change. Its the magic pill scenario. and they buy themselves another 4-5 years of loyalty because everyone believes that things will be different now that someone else is in charge.

    things only ever really change, though, when the actual dynamics change too. and unless ownership hears it, it will be more of the same.

    people need to be screaming HIRE A JOHN MOZELIAK! HIRE JEFF LUHNOW! not FIRE RUBEN!

    Fire Ruben happens regardless.

    its all in the message, and whether that message is positive or negative. So if your reading this, the next time you call in to Sirus XM, the next time you call Cataldi, don’t shout fire Ruben, shout Hire a mozeliak!

    thats the point.

  21. joecatz

    August 14, 2013 02:39 PM

    Also, for anyone who doesn’t think there can be a worse traditional GM than Ruben Amaro, running a team with a big budget, take a look at what Jerry Dipoto has done since October 2011 for the Angels.

    IT CAN GET A LOT WORSE THAN RUBEN.

  22. joecatz

    August 14, 2013 03:22 PM

    and the sad part about Dipoto is this is a guy who was touted as being a sbermetrically minded GM and was universally acknowledged as the best GM candidate in the game.

    but he has an owner who wants to win. and win now.

  23. hk

    August 14, 2013 05:03 PM

    Pencilfish,

    To start with…

    hk,

    It was a long article. I can understand if you haven’t read the whole thing, because you missed the main point of the article.

    …and follow up with…

    Joecatz,

    Instead of the main point of your article, I should have said “my main takeaway”.

    …leads me to wonder whether you’re a combination of condescending and unable to understand difficult concepts or a combination of condescending and stubborn.

  24. Phillie697

    August 15, 2013 10:05 AM

    “Of course the phillies have limited But that budget has yet to be a reason why they can’t go out and sign someone.”

    Didn’t your arguments boil down to these two things? 1) Phillies didn’t spend this past off-season because there was no one worth spending on, and 2) they were saving cap space for this off-season’s FA.

    If you’re SAVING money to spend later, explain to me how that is not “not go out and sign someone”? If we didn’t have Ryan Howard’s dead money on our books, would signing Nick Swisher been as big of a deal as you make it out to be? Again, do not focus on the tree and ignore the forest. ALL of it are tied together somehow. You can’t on one hand say we haven’t been “hampered” by any of our mistakes all the while praising the FO for being wise for not spending money this off-season. They wouldn’t have to be so “wise” in the first place if they had been fing wise with Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon.

    Everything you have argued is an implied admission that the mistakes of our past is dictating the decisions we make today. THAT is the definition of being hampered. You’re just playing on the margins trying to argue a point for the sake of arguing, just like your article about “it could be a lot worse than RAJ.”

  25. Phillie697

    August 15, 2013 10:14 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    I’ll state my position more clearly in a sort of saber way so you’ll understand it better.

    Everyone knows Douchbag Young is bad. In fact, he is so bad, you’re likely to find a better replacement for him if you took all the names of available OF, put them on the wall, and throw a dart at the wall and sign whoever the dart hits. This is because he’s so bad, he is below replacement. That’s right, he is so bad that completely picking someone out of the available pool by random is a better move than playing him.

    Now, I don’t think RAJ is THAT bad. You’d have to intentionally try very hard to actually be worse than Douchbag Young. However, I DO consider RAJ to be a “replacement” level GM; that is, if we randomly picked out a managerial talent that is considered by the market as GM-worthy, he is likely to be no worse than RAJ, and there is a non-zero chance he might even be better. So hence, taking my chances by rolling the dice is a better option than staying with the dude who’s ruined this team.

    Yes, the ownership did hire RAJ. That was mistake. But he had no track record at the time, and he was endorsed by the previous GM. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt; after all, they also hired Gillick AND Ed Wade, which as it turns out, most people now agree are better than RAJ. I rather let them at it at the craps table than staying with RAJ.

  26. Phillie697

    August 15, 2013 10:18 AM

    @joecatz,

    “1. Fire Amaro/Hire an analytical minded GM
    2. Keep Amaro and pray
    3. Hire a different GM who wont do a thing regarding Analytics.

    and my reasoning for that is simple. IF you go with option three, that change that is necessary is put off for at least 3-5 more years. no questions asked.”

    There is merit in this argument. I can see the logic here. Then the question is, if you rather have option #2, what makes you think it’s not the same 3-5 more years, especially if you believe #1 won’t happen? What makes you think it’ll happen in 2015, 2016, or even 3-5 years later?

    This is what happens when you try to predict what an illogical entity (e.g. ownership and RAJ) will do in your analysis of what the team SHOULD do. I can just as easily argue that we SHOULD replace RAJ NOW because ownership is never going to do #1, and RAJ is towards the bottom of even the traditionalist GMs, so I rather just have a better traditionalist GM than RAJ, if #1 would never happen. Heck, maybe ownership will stumble into an analytical GM by sheer luck.

  27. Pencilfish

    August 15, 2013 02:11 PM

    hk,

    When I say “main point”, it is obviously my interpretation. Therefore, I re-phrased it as “my main takeaway” to better reflect the meaning. Why is that an issue?

    The team went to 3 straight post-seasons on RAJ’s watch, then played .500 last year and are now headed towards a sub-.500 season, and people are calling for his head, because it is assumed it could not get any worse with any other GM. That’s just wishful thinking. It can get worse. A lot worse. It can get a lot better, too, but no one knows the odds.

    Put yourself in the owners shoes and imagine you telling him things will get a lot better, not only for the team but also their pocketbooks if they fire RAJ. What compelling evidence do you have that things will get better? FYI, I previously said RAJ is signed through 2014. I was WRONG. He’s signed through 2015. Is it coincidence that he is tasked to oversee the roster until the new TV is negotiated?

    I previously asked (and you agreed) to propose a rebuild of the roster for 2014 without the benefit of hindsight. I am still waiting. You call me condescending and stubborn. What does that make you?

  28. hk

    August 15, 2013 07:17 PM

    Pencilfish,

    When you typed the following, did you mean that the article was too long for me to grasp your take-away from it?:

    “hk,

    It was a long article. I can understand if you haven’t read the whole thing, because you missed the main point of the article.”

  29. hk

    August 15, 2013 09:01 PM

    Pencilfish,

    I have a family and my own business to run, so I apologize for not responding in a more timely fashion. The fact of the matter is that it is a pretty worthless exercise to lay out a game-plan for a team’s off-season because there are too many unknowns and assumptions involved and so many options will be dependent upon other events that precede them. Therefore, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this, but off the top of my head, if I owned the team and I hired myself as GM, following are some ideas and strategies that would be part of my plan:

    1. I would start off by offering Cliff Lee and ~$30M for a package similar to the one that the Rays got from KC for James Shields. Whether I could get next off-season’s equivalent of Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi for Lee would shape the rest of my off-season.

    2. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I would not part with my 1st round draft choice for any free agent. If the team finishes in the bottom 10 in MLB this year, this is a non-issue as the 1st round pick would be protected. If the team finishes in the top 20 in MLB this year, I would not pursue any free agent whose team made a qualifying offer to the player.

    3. If I didn’t receive an OF in a trade for Lee, I would offer a 4 year deal with a 5th year vesting option to Jacoby Ellsbury. If I could not sign Ellsbury, I would offer a 3 year deal with a 4th year vesting option to Shin-Soo Choo.

    4. I would most likely non-tender Kendrick and sign Halladay to an incentive laden extension if he comes back and pitches fairly well this year. If my scouts tell me that MAG is likely to be a #3 and my doctors tell me he’s likely to be healthy, I go through with signing him. If I could get Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal, I would consider him in the mix if I trade Lee or I don’t extend Halladay or I don’t sign MAG.

    5. I would try to trade Papelbon, but I would assume he would be part of my bullpen and I would hope Adams would be healthy enough to contribute. I would assume Bastardo would be back and I would fill one or two additional pen spots from the current roster (Diekmann or Valdes or Stutes if he’s healthy or Ethan Martin if my scouts determine he’s not likely to be a starter). After that, I would try to cheaply sign or acquire a reliever who has had success in the past, but who is going through a down and/or out 2013 (David Hernandez and Ryan Madson come to mind quickly).

    6. I would plan to have Ruf platoon with Howard at 1B.

  30. Phillie697

    August 16, 2013 09:54 AM

    hk basically outlined the moves I suggested before the trade deadline, except two things that I would amend:

    1) I would kick the tires on Brian McCann. I don’t think people realize how valuable a catcher with a .355 career .wOBA is, and on top of that he’s a competent catcher defensively, i.e. he’s not Mike Piazza, all bat no glove. Furthermore, Howard’s contract expires in 3 years, around the time when, if we need to, we can move him to 1B. Of course, whether or not we pull the trigger depends on what he’ll ultimately command on the market. I had proposed $18M per, but we might be able to do a deal closer to what Yadier Molina got from the Cards. $15M per is a more-than-acceptable risk for Brian McCann.

    2) We’ll still need another pitcher after trading Lee. I don’t trust Halladay, I don’t trust Kendrick, I have zero clue about MAG, and I don’t think he’ll be ready by spring training. Like I proposed, I’d go after Nolasco on a 2-year contract.

  31. hk

    August 16, 2013 10:02 AM

    Phillie,

    You are right, I forgot to address the catcher position. However, before I would commit multiple years and big dollars to any catcher, I would need to have an assessment from my scouting department as to the likelihood that any of the catchers in the system is a good bet to be a starter by 2015. If so, I might pursue AJ Pierzynski on a one year deal. If not, I’d kick the tires on McCann and Saltalamacchia.

    As far as the rotation is concerned, whether or not I can get a good return for Lee impacts everything else I do here. The free agent list this off-season is underwhelming, which is one reason why I suggested that they should sign up Anibal Sanchez last off-season. Without Sanchez, I would kick the tires on Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal and/or Nolasco like you mention.

  32. Phillie697

    August 16, 2013 10:59 AM

    @hk,

    I’m not seeing the catching prospects in our system amounting to much. They seem to get to the Phillies and then tank. When they leave, they blow up. Man do we wish we have d’Arnaud back. That is one prospect to get excited about. That dude is like Brian McCann but 6 years younger. I mean, it’s only 78 PAs, but he has a 26.9% BB in AAA this year. 26.9!!!!

  33. Pencilfish

    August 16, 2013 01:01 PM

    “there are too many unknowns and assumptions involved and so many options will be dependent upon other events that precede them”

    I agree. This is what RAJ has to confront. While you might argue he has done a lousy job as a GM, it is important to appreciate the complexity of his job. Note that your choices (and Phillie697) essentially say you want the Phillies to compete in 2014, which is what RAJ said he would do. Others have talked about blowing up and rebuilding, and I said that’s not the best move, given the market size and financial resources (present and future) of the team.

  34. Phillie697

    August 16, 2013 01:19 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    With $170M, we can do both. I just wish RAJ realized this 5 years ago.

  35. hk

    August 17, 2013 05:02 AM

    Pencilfish.

    The reasons that it’s complex for me are (1) I have a family and a business to run, so my commitment to this exercise was ~30 minutes and (2) I’m not privy to a lot of the information to which RAJ is privy. On the latter point, my whole off-season plan would depend on what I could get in a trade for Lee. Without actually being in a position to pick up the phone and call Brian Cashman and John Mozeliak, I don’t know if I would or wouldn’t trade Lee. From there, I don’t have the time or willingness to create an entire flow chart of Plan B’s, Plan C’s, Plan D’s, etc.

    RAJ, on the other hand, is the full time GM with the time and resources to do the job. Is it complex? I suspect so, but I’m not sure that it’s more complex than the jobs of many of us who comment on these boards. It’s also complex for the other 29 GM’s – in many cases probably more so because they don’t have the budget that RAJ has – so to me, complexity of the job is no excuse for a lousy GM. John Mozeliak’s job is also complex, yet he does a good job at it.

    By the way, if I was GM, competing in 2014 would take a back seat to becoming a more cost effective, younger, deeper team with a chance to be competitive in 2015 and beyond. Hence, the desire to trade Lee for a return like Wil Myers + Jake Odorizzi and trade Papelbon.

  36. hk

    August 17, 2013 05:15 AM

    One more thing is that I was never on board with “blowing it up” and freeing up a ton of salary as a strategy for this team because I’ve always felt that free agency is a cost ineffective way to acquire players and I think it is becoming more so as the players available in free agency become worse year after year. My dislike of free agency is even greater if your team is in that “un-sweet” spot of finishing with between the 11th and 15th worst record in MLB meaning you’d lose a pick to sign a free agent who had received a qualifying offer. I know I keep beating a dead horse, but these are the reasons why I thought it was so important to sign Anibal Sanchez last off-season. He was a free agent P who was still in his prime (29 this season), would not cost a draft pick and projected to be better than any other free agent pitcher this off-season and probably next (assuming that Kershaw gets extended before he reaches free agency).

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